Coronavirus fallout likely to hurt small Winnipeg businesses; owners proactively shutting doors

The federal government has yet to mandate the closure of all stores that are not deemed essential services, but some Manitoba businesses aren’t taking any chances.

“We decided late last night that we needed to close the shop,” Mad About Style owner Nicola Loewen told Global News. “We didn’t feel comfortable putting our staff in a place where they would be dealing with the public and then putting our clients in that position either.”

Loewen has moved her clothing boutique to just online sales and orders for the time being and said while it was a difficult decision to close the store, her and her staff felt it was more important to do their part to keep Winnipeggers safe.

“What’s the right decision personally, business-wise … you really never know,” she said. “But ultimately, we want to make sure our community is safe and we are doing our part to keep the risk level down.”

Loewen said her clothing store is already feeling some fallout from COVID-19.

“It’s a huge impact,” she said. “We’ve already had an impact in February when factories were closed in China and not having a ton of samples for us to buy from.”

The small business owner said she is working to make sure her team of staff is still compensated during this time.

Segovia, Deer + Almond, Passero and a growing list of local restaurants are also making the decision to close their doors ahead of any formal provincial or federal mandate.

In the Exchange District, The Kings Head Pub closed its doors Monday morning, just 24 hours ahead of its busiest day of the year.

“St. Patrick’s Day for us is kinda like Christmas,” owner Chris Graves said. “It was one of the toughest decisions we’ve ever had to make.”

Graves said the closure is going to impact his 37 staff members the most.

“Most of the staff are paid on minimum wage and rely on tips to put food on their table,” Graves said. “It was a difficult decision to figure that out.”

Graves said he is currently meeting with the bank to see how he can make sure his team is taken care of during the shut down.

“The most important thing for us going through this prices is how do we take care of our staff because here staff is family for us,” he said.

He’s encouraging people to go online and buy gift certificates to their favourite local shops, eateries and pubs to help support them during this difficult time.

“We’ll celebrate together when we re-open,” he said.

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